Vicious Rumors have been carrying the flag of US power metal for more than 4 decades now and Geoff Thorpe, as the only original band member remaining, knows the story best. The perseverance this band has soldiered on with through personal tragedy (the loss of legendary frontman Carl Albert in 1995) and the grunge dominated nineties, is nothing short of amazing. The strength and power of their 13th studio album Celebration Decay, which will be out August 21st through SPV/ Steamhammer is another proof that this band is here to stay. We called Geoff in California to tell us the secret, and we are not surprised to reveal – it’s the love of metal.
Hey, Geoff – the new album is fantastic and we will elaborate more on that later, but I have to ask you first to comment on the fact that we have another new Vicious Rumors album and another new frontman. How did you set your eyes on Nick? He’s done a great job on the album.
– Oh, thank you so much for those words, man. We appreciate it. We really worked so much on that album and the band is firing on all cylinders right now. Nick Courtney is another one of all these talented musicians that I’ve had the chance to work with. I have an eye for talent and Nick definitely stands out. We met him through some mutual friends, actually, our former singer Brian Allen introduced him to us. We just hit it off right away, because he had all the qualities I was looking for. He had to be able to sing in many different styles and really be a natural to be the frontman in Vicious Rumors and Nick obviously has all these capabilities.
His singing is certainly one of the highlights in the new album, but there is something important that made impression on me. The title track, which is also the opener of the album is so heavy and thrashy, that it can easily be on the latest Testament album. There are several other moments in the album when there also is a Testament vibe. Can you agree with that?
– Well, I actually think the closest thing we’ve had in common with Testament is that we had Greg Christian (formerly of Testament) on bass. That was a true honour and he’s been a long-time friend of mine, so that was great. Vicious Rumors has a lot of different elements to our sound. We are one of the few bands to mix power metal, traditional heavy metal, parts of thrash metal… we even mix a bit of classic rock in there. I don’t know if you could attribute that to Testament per se, but I can understand how you would say that, because this album has A LOT of energy. We wanted to make a really heavy Vicious Rumors album, where the lyrics and the music are just powerful so yeah, some of that Bay Area thrash influence came out of us on this album.
Geoff, this is certainly one of the heaviest, if not THE heaviest Vicious Rumors album and, as you mentioned, your style sometimes almost borders on thrash, but you also have this light progressive metal touch. Do you consciously try to find a balance between these genres or the heaviness in the new album came out naturally?
– I think everything that we did was natural. Both Nick and Gunnar (our guitar player) – these guys really stepped in at a time when we had to do 108 shows together before we made the record. We harnessed so much energy on those shows, getting in touch with the fans, so it felt really comfortable to create this new record with the guys. And this album is really the only one I’ve ever had where the guys went together on tour first and then made the album. I think you can really hear this in the album when you listen to it, you can hear a band that is tight, that has done work together. It gave is this sort of a well-oiled-machine feel.
I can for sure confirm this on my side. I have already posted my opinion on Facebook and there is a review coming up, but I really think Celebration Decay is your best album since Welcome To The Ball. Can you tell me what was the best-received album by fans and media since the early 90s?
– God, I don’t know for sure. Probably it should be Word Of Mouth in the nineties. It is funny because the nineties were a trip. We held our heavy metal flag high when grunge was taking over and I think we still made five albums, just powering through a tough time for heavy metal. I think with Welcome To The Ball and Word Of Mouth we did a good job, standing up for heavy metal, haha.
The music and also the lyrics in Celebration Decay seem very relevant to the world state right now. How did you personally deal with all the Covid difficulties in the last months?
– The album itself, even though it seems and sounds it is about the pandemic, it isn’t. We wrote it before it even started, but we were set up to write a very heavy and dark album about the decay of humanity and when the pandemic started, then all of a sudden the lyrics sound even more heavy and brutal. For me personally, I try to be not so stressed about it, but at the same time I’m trying to be very careful. I’m a little older now and I don’t wanna get sick. I take it very seriously, but at the same time I think it’s very hard to know what information is correct and the whole thing is very confusing, man. I don’t think life should stop but I think we should take it seriously at least and alter some ways of doing things for a while. I can’t wait to get back to a good, old, traditional heavy metal ass-kicking.
We are all looking forward to this moment, Geoff! Your guitar playing style has been an inspiration for so many young players. What is the most distinctive feature of the Geoff Thorpe playing style? Is it only the guitar and the technique or there is something more to it?
– You know, I really appreciate that, man. I never really based my style on any one guitar player. I think there are a lot of guys which, when you hear them play, you can hear a lot of similarities, and that’s cool. I am more influenced by old school players, guys like Jimmy Page and Hendrix who had really a lot of feel. I’ve always had a guitar partner that is more like the super shredder type of guy and my style is probably more like a refrigerator falling down the stairs, I don’t know, haha! I just like to do what I do and keep my style as original as I can. I think when you do hear my leads and stuff, I feel like I have achieved some kind of identity in my style, but it just comes out of passion and the love of heavy metal and the love of playing guitar. I love the music and I love my instrument and it’s a good relationship.
Can you tell me if there are any albums that have impressed you in the last few years?
– Ooooh, that’s such a tough question. New albums….. I love the latest Priest album and I really like their guitar player Richie Falkner. He just sounds like a Judas Priest guitarist. I really like Arch Enemy’s last album, as well.
There is a new front of new, talented bands coming up and a lot of them are inspired by Vicious Rumors, so you can sit comfortably with these guys when touring. I would like to ask a question for the vinyl collectors. The last two classic albums with Carl Albert Welcome To The Ball and Word Of Mouth are really hard to find nowadays. Do you plan to reissue them?
– Absolutely. Our catalogue is getting so big now, with 13 studio albums and 3 live albums and a DVD and everything else, I think we have 17 or 18 official releases now. I would love to see all of these being reissued and coming out in special packages or something. I can tell you that Word Of Mouth will be coming out on a very special limited edition vinyl later in the year through Night Of The Living Dead. It will be just 500 copies, so that will be really special. Working with SPV has been fantastic for ten years now, that’s the longest label relationship I’ve ever had. I would love to do a boxset with them or something special. That’s definitely a possibility.
This sounds great. We really hope so. So, final question – do you already have plans to play live next year?
– Oh, we had to cancel our European, Japanese and US tours this year and it was really painful. We really hope to make for that big time next year. Also, next year is the 30th anniversary of Welcome To The Ball so we might do some kind of special tour, playing the whole of the album and at the same time also do the Celebration Decay tour, so that we can play some fresh new music.